Imelda Ebojo Reyes

On God’s Itinerary

My story begins when I was a pre-med student attending Baguio Tech in 1968. Ready for internship at Baguio Hospital, my Father summoned us – my sister, our mother and I – to join him and my two older brothers in the United States.

Our departure flight was on July 27, 1968. On that day at the airport, we witnessed numerous men in white uniforms walking all around the airport and moving around on motorbikes. People around us were saying that those men were the “Iglesia Ni Cristo” security detail. Our thoughts then were, “What are they doing at the airport?” My sister, Elza Ebojo Membrere with our mother, Florentina Bautista Ebojo, and I, were together as we departed Manila Airport on the now very momentous day, July 27, 1968.

Imelda, right, with her mother and sister prior to boarding their flight to San Francisco on July 27, 1968.

On board the plane going to California, we were not aware that Bro. Erano G. Manalo and a few ministers were also on board until we saw Bro. Cipriano Sandoval on the airplane. We knew Brother Sandoval from Baguio and from the Ilocos region. He informed us that Ka Erdy was on board, accompanied by a few ministers with the intention of going to Honolulu, Hawaii to see the situation of our brethren there. In connection to that itinerary, they would proceed to San Francisco and do the same. Brethren from Honolulu and from San Francisco sent petitions, requesting the Administration to grant them worship services at their locations, for the sake of their souls. Within that sixteen hours flight, I gave Bro. Sandoval our new home address and our phone number, in case they would need it when they arrived on the mainland.

As we stopped at Hawaii airport for refueling, Brother Erano G. Manalo and all the ministers accompanying him stayed behind as our flight continued to San Francisco, California.

In the first week of August, Bro. Arsenio Velasco got a hold of us and informed us the schedule of worship services. He was the first head deacon appointed by Bro. Erano G. Manalo, and worship gatherings were held at his residence on Edinburgh Street in San Francisco. Because my sister and I were choir members in the Philippines, we made sure to bring our togas and our hymnbooks with us. It was such a blessing that we did, for we were able to continue our duties as choir members who were needed at that time.

From the home of Bro. Velasco, we grew in number. We began holding worship gatherings at Serbian Hall and then a few years later we moved to a bigger place which was the California Hall on Polk Street. As the number of brethren increased, and to have a more proper place to hold our worship services, the Church Administration purchased the chapel on Clay Street in San Francisco.

<—Brother Cipriano Sandoval and his wife boarding the historic flight that brought Executive Minister Brother Erano G. Manalo and the Church of Christ out West. 

As we stopped at Hawaii airport for refueling, Brother Erano G. Manalo and all the ministers accompanying him stayed behind as our flight continued to San Francisco, California.

In the first week of August, Bro. Arsenio Velasco got a hold of us and informed us the schedule of worship services. He was the first head deacon appointed by Bro. Erano G. Manalo, and worship gatherings were held at his residence on Edinburgh Street in San Francisco. Because my sister and I were choir members in the Philippines, we made sure to bring our togas and our hymnbooks with us. It was such a blessing that we did, for we were able to continue our duties as choir members who were needed at that time.

The pioneers of the local congregation of Oakland, California; Imelda, second from the right.—>

From the home of Bro. Velasco, we grew in number. We began holding worship gatherings at Serbian Hall and then a few years later we moved to a bigger place which was the California Hall on Polk Street. As the number of brethren increased, and to have a more proper place to hold our worship services, the Church Administration purchased the chapel on Clay Street in San Francisco.

As years passed by, neighboring locales were established. Oakland Congregation was established in 1975 with the help of Bro. Paulino Membrere. Ka Lino, as we called him, was sent by Bro. Erano G. Manalo, to cross the ocean and be our Supervising Minister. As residents of Oakland, we were one of the pioneers there also. Ka Lino appointed me as the choir leader and the Local Auditor, while my sister Elza was appointed as the Local Treasurer. With the help of our Almighty God I was able to fulfill my choir leadership for twenty years.

As time went on, the growth of the church expanded from San Francisco to Oakland, Stockton, Vallejo, Reno, Sacramento, Fresno, Lake Tahoe, Antioch, Lemoore, Mountain View, Redwood City, Fremont and many more.

As a choir leader then, choir members were scheduled to travel frequently to help other local congregations during their worship services and special occasions like Holy Supper, Annual Thanksgiving, and even wedding ceremonies. We traveled in cars by convoy to out of state local congregations like Colorado for their Holy Supper, and Vancouver, Canada for their Chapel Dedication.

<—The choir members of the Local Congregation of Oakland, California in their new House of Worship.

As time went on, the growth of the church expanded from San Francisco to Oakland, Stockton, Vallejo, Reno, Sacramento, Fresno, Lake Tahoe, Antioch, Lemoore, Mountain View, Redwood City, Fremont and many more.

As a choir leader then, choir members were scheduled to travel frequently to help other local congregations during their worship services and special occasions like Holy Supper, Annual Thanksgiving, and even wedding ceremonies. We traveled in cars by convoy to out of state local congregations like Colorado for their Holy Supper, and Vancouver, Canada for their Chapel Dedication.

I was eighteen when I left our homeland and I never went back after I got my green card. Instead, I was peaceful on the mainland because I was able to perform my choir duties. It is indeed a blessing that my family was on the same flight with the Church Administration crossing the Pacific Ocean, in response to the cries and needs of the brethren abroad. This signified the establishment of the first gathering of God’s nation outside the Philippines.

The officers of Oakland perform at the dedication of Denver, Colorado House of Worship.—>
<—The officers of Oakland perform at the dedication of Vancouver, British Columbia’s House of Worship.

Leaving the Philippines on July 27, 1968 felt like just an ordinary day for my family and it may seem as a very odd coincidence, but it turned out indeed to be a significant day in the history of the Iglesia Ni Cristo, the Church of Christ. Deep in my heart, I fully understood that my migrating process to San Francisco was planned by God, so that my family could help and witness the growth of the Church in the Far West.

Imelda with her late son, Keith Reyes, in front of the San Francisco House of Worship in 1974. Imelda Ebojo Reyes still currently resides in Oakland California with her husband and two daughters.

Browse Stories by Category

Imelda Ebojo Reyes

On God’s Itinerary

My story begins when I was a pre-med student attending Baguio Tech in 1968. Ready for internship at Baguio Hospital, my Father summoned us – my sister, our mother and I – to join him and my two older brothers in the United States.

Our departure flight was on July 27, 1968. On that day at the airport, we witnessed numerous men in white uniforms walking all around the airport and moving around on motorbikes. People around us were saying that those men were the “Iglesia Ni Cristo” security detail. Our thoughts then were, “What are they doing at the airport?” My sister, Elza Ebojo Membrere with our mother, Florentina Bautista Ebojo, and I, were together as we departed Manila Airport on the now very momentous day, July 27, 1968.

Imelda, right, with her mother and sister prior to boarding their flight to San Francisco on July 27, 1968.

On board the plane going to California, we were not aware that Bro. Erano G. Manalo and a few ministers were also on board until we saw Bro. Cipriano Sandoval on the airplane. We knew Brother Sandoval from Baguio and from the Ilocos region. He informed us that Ka Erdy was on board, accompanied by a few ministers with the intention of going to Honolulu, Hawaii to see the situation of our brethren there. In connection to that itinerary, they would proceed to San Francisco and do the same. Brethren from Honolulu and from San Francisco sent petitions, requesting the Administration to grant them worship services at their locations, for the sake of their souls. Within that sixteen hours flight, I gave Bro. Sandoval our new home address and our phone number, in case they would need it when they arrived on the mainland.

As we stopped at Hawaii airport for refueling, Brother Erano G. Manalo and all the ministers accompanying him stayed behind as our flight continued to San Francisco, California.

In the first week of August, Bro. Arsenio Velasco got a hold of us and informed us the schedule of worship services. He was the first head deacon appointed by Bro. Erano G. Manalo, and worship gatherings were held at his residence on Edinburgh Street in San Francisco. Because my sister and I were choir members in the Philippines, we made sure to bring our togas and our hymnbooks with us. It was such a blessing that we did, for we were able to continue our duties as choir members who were needed at that time.

From the home of Bro. Velasco, we grew in number. We began holding worship gatherings at Serbian Hall and then a few years later we moved to a bigger place which was the California Hall on Polk Street. As the number of brethren increased, and to have a more proper place to hold our worship services, the Church Administration purchased the chapel on Clay Street in San Francisco.

<—Brother Cipriano Sandoval and his wife boarding the historic flight that brought Executive Minister Brother Erano G. Manalo and the Church of Christ out West. 

As we stopped at Hawaii airport for refueling, Brother Erano G. Manalo and all the ministers accompanying him stayed behind as our flight continued to San Francisco, California.

In the first week of August, Bro. Arsenio Velasco got a hold of us and informed us the schedule of worship services. He was the first head deacon appointed by Bro. Erano G. Manalo, and worship gatherings were held at his residence on Edinburgh Street in San Francisco. Because my sister and I were choir members in the Philippines, we made sure to bring our togas and our hymnbooks with us. It was such a blessing that we did, for we were able to continue our duties as choir members who were needed at that time.

The pioneers of the local congregation of Oakland, California; Imelda, second from the right.—>

From the home of Bro. Velasco, we grew in number. We began holding worship gatherings at Serbian Hall and then a few years later we moved to a bigger place which was the California Hall on Polk Street. As the number of brethren increased, and to have a more proper place to hold our worship services, the Church Administration purchased the chapel on Clay Street in San Francisco.

As years passed by, neighboring locales were established. Oakland Congregation was established in 1975 with the help of Bro. Paulino Membrere. Ka Lino, as we called him, was sent by Bro. Erano G. Manalo, to cross the ocean and be our Supervising Minister. As residents of Oakland, we were one of the pioneers there also. Ka Lino appointed me as the choir leader and the Local Auditor, while my sister Elza was appointed as the Local Treasurer. With the help of our Almighty God I was able to fulfill my choir leadership for twenty years.

As time went on, the growth of the church expanded from San Francisco to Oakland, Stockton, Vallejo, Reno, Sacramento, Fresno, Lake Tahoe, Antioch, Lemoore, Mountain View, Redwood City, Fremont and many more.

As a choir leader then, choir members were scheduled to travel frequently to help other local congregations during their worship services and special occasions like Holy Supper, Annual Thanksgiving, and even wedding ceremonies. We traveled in cars by convoy to out of state local congregations like Colorado for their Holy Supper, and Vancouver, Canada for their Chapel Dedication.

<—The choir members of the Local Congregation of Oakland, California in their new House of Worship.

As time went on, the growth of the church expanded from San Francisco to Oakland, Stockton, Vallejo, Reno, Sacramento, Fresno, Lake Tahoe, Antioch, Lemoore, Mountain View, Redwood City, Fremont and many more.

As a choir leader then, choir members were scheduled to travel frequently to help other local congregations during their worship services and special occasions like Holy Supper, Annual Thanksgiving, and even wedding ceremonies. We traveled in cars by convoy to out of state local congregations like Colorado for their Holy Supper, and Vancouver, Canada for their Chapel Dedication.

I was eighteen when I left our homeland and I never went back after I got my green card. Instead, I was peaceful on the mainland because I was able to perform my choir duties. It is indeed a blessing that my family was on the same flight with the Church Administration crossing the Pacific Ocean, in response to the cries and needs of the brethren abroad. This signified the establishment of the first gathering of God’s nation outside the Philippines.

The officers of Oakland perform at the dedication of Denver, Colorado House of Worship.—>
<—The officers of Oakland perform at the dedication of Vancouver, British Columbia’s House of Worship.

Leaving the Philippines on July 27, 1968 felt like just an ordinary day for my family and it may seem as a very odd coincidence, but it turned out indeed to be a significant day in the history of the Iglesia Ni Cristo, the Church of Christ. Deep in my heart, I fully understood that my migrating process to San Francisco was planned by God, so that my family could help and witness the growth of the Church in the Far West.

Imelda with her late son, Keith Reyes, in front of the San Francisco House of Worship in 1974. Imelda Ebojo Reyes still currently resides in Oakland California with her husband and two daughters.

Browse Stories by Category

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *